Mercedes-AMG Carries IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD Manufacturer Points Lead Into
Second Half of the Season
WATKINS GLEN, NY – July 6, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – A hard-earned fourth-place finish by the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen kept Mercedes-AMG on top of the GT Daytona (GTD) manufacturer championship standings in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as the series heads into the first race of the second-half-of-the-season this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
In last Sunday’s Sahlen’s six-hour race on the classic 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International road course, co-drivers Cooper MacNeil, Gunnar Jeannette and Shane van Gisbergen scored their best endurance race result of the year with the fourth- place showing in the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Starting 15th on the IMSA GTD grid at The Glen, opening drivers MacNeil and Jeannette each overcame tricky track conditions and early handling issues for consistent stints in the No. 50 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the first half of the race.
Avoiding contact incidents and tire issues that befell many competitors, MacNeil handed off to Jeannette who raced the No. 50 into the top-10 just past the race’s halfway mark. Van Gisbergen took over from there and stayed in the No. 50 to the finish. After rejoining the race in 10th, van Gisbergen was seventh with two hours to go and cracked the top-five in the race’s final hour.
With just over five minutes remaining, van Gisbergen moved into the top four and took the checkered flag for the No. 50’s best race result since full-season co-drivers MacNeil and Jeannette were victorious in a sprint race on the streets of Long Beach in April.
The No. 50 team’s top-five result keeps Mercedes-AMG in first place in the competitive IMSA GTD manufacturer championship standings at the critical mid- season mark. Mercedes-AMG has a five-point lead over nearest challenger Ferrari, 187 – 182.
The WeatherTech team’s fourth place was the top showing of the three Mercedes- AMG Motorsport customer teams competing at The Glen.
Two-time 2017 race winners Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who were joined at The Glen by Mario Farnbacher, endured a challenging day and never had an opportunity to challenge the leaders in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Keating stayed on the lead lap and in top-10 contention throughout his race-opening stint, but a mid-race pit-stop penalty and flat tire during Farnbacher’s run put the No. 33 one lap down.
Bleekemolen drove just under the race’s final three hours, but he and the Mercedes- AMG Riley Motorsports team needed more race-slowing yellow-flag caution periods to get back on the lead lap. With the final hours of the race primarily run in green-flag conditions, the No. 33 team and drivers settled for a 10th-place finish.
The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and team drivers Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier and Boris Said also endured their fair share of endurance-race issues. Starting driver Said had a tire puncture and was later hit by a Prototype in the race’s second hour.
The resulting unscheduled pit stops and a related and unavoidable pit penalty cost the No. 75 two laps they never had a chance to get back. Closing driver Vautier ran some of the fastest GTD laps of the race in his final stint but ultimately took the checkered flag in 15th position.
With the year’s first half-dozen races now in the record books, this Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – formerly known as Mosport Park – kicks off a six-race stretch to close out the 2017 season.
The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is the lone 2017 IMSA WeatherTech Championship event held in Canada and caps the season’s only back-to-back stretch of races, which started this past weekend at Watkins Glen in New York State.
The two-hour and 40-minute Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Mosport is scheduled to start this Sunday at 12:05 p.m. EDT. The weekend opens with a pair of one-hour practice sessions on Friday, and a final 60-minute practice run Saturday morning sets the stage for GTD qualifying that afternoon at 12:05 p.m. EDT. Race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute warmup at 8:50 a.m. EDT.
Live coverage of the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix begins this Sunday, July 9, at 12p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). International viewers can watch live streaming on IMSA.com.
Cooper MacNeil, Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We came to The Glen, started 15th and finished fourth, and that was honestly the best we could have done. Unfortunately, right now the car is just a bit too heavy and over-restricted as far as the BoP (Balance of Performance) goes. One of the strong points of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is how well balanced it is, right off the truck, and that really helped us. It is a very fun car to drive and an awesome car to race. Our finish was good for Mercedes-AMG. Gunnar and I are not in it in terms of drivers’ points, but if we can help out Mercedes-AMG it’s good for the whole team.
Gunnar Jeannette, Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We were just holding onto it hoping the track would get better and help us out. The longer the track continued to rubber in, the better it got for us. I got our lap back and we were in 10th. The car was getting better and better. We were still more than half a second off the fastest lap time, but the car was pretty good and the guys did everything right in the pits. The 33 and 75 cars had a couple of issues, so it was nice for us to be out there flying the Mercedes-AMG flag and to get them some solid manufacturer’s points.”
Shane van Gisbergen, Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Our Mercedes-AMG GT3 just got better and better through the weekend. We didn’t start so well, but I think the track came to us, so that was good. In my stint we kept moving forward, and the lap speed of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was good, but with the current restrictions we just didn’t have top speed to pass people. You would just lose to everyone on the straight and not make it up on the corners. It was nice to drive, just slow in the wrong places.”
Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The No. 50 car finished fourth, and that was somewhat similar to what we hoped to do. We didn’t have a car that was capable of passing for the lead, and we hoped to use strategy and great pit stops to work our way up there and try to hold it. We had a really good start to our season and have been hammered by being slowed down. Now, many of the other manufacturers have figured a lot out and there’s some more rules balancing work that needs to be done, which won’t come until after Mosport. Mosport has a really long straight, like Watkins Glen, but I think Mosport will be much better for us than The Glen.”
Mario Farnbacher, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We gave everything during our stints to squeeze the last little bit out of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, but the other manufacturers, unfortunately, just have more than we do right now. We got a bit unlucky today, we also had a puncture on the front left directly after a pit stop, and that hurt us as well. That’s the reason why we lost one lap, and a yellow didn’t come at the right time to help us.”
Boris Said, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We struggled all day, I got behind, had a puncture, and then I got hit by a Prototype. I gave him room and he just turned in and hit me as he was going by, and that caused a bunch of damage. Then we got a penalty for working on the car when the pits were closed, so just a few issues, but in the end Tristan ran very strong. Hopefully the BoP will change a little bit.”
Tristan Vautier, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It was a shame there were no yellows timed properly for us so we could catch up, but overall the struggle this weekend was the pace. The straight-line speed is off, clearly, but our Mercedes-AMG GT3 chassis is very good. We ended up with a good pace overall but it is just not enough. Our pace over a lap is decent, but we are just lacking on the straights. Hopefully we can get something back in the BoP. I have raced at Mosport before but this will be the first in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and I am looking forward to it.”
Source: Mercedes-Benz USA